Curriculum planning: ks1 history

This is the third in this series of blogs helping you plan your primary curriculum from Victoria Morris @MrsSTeaches. This one is about ks1 history. You can catch up with the previous two on ks1 and ks2 geography here and here.

I think Victoria’s work here really exemplifies what the phrase ‘the curriculum is the progression model’ means. Curriculum planning is a long game; we lay foundations which others build on. For example, Victoria suggests  if you read Room 13 in key stage 2, you might want to do some light touch work on the dissolution of the monasteries because this will lay the foundation for understanding the history of Whitby Abbey, as well as being valuable in its own right. It would certainly help children no end in when studying secondary school history if they already understood what terms like monk and monastery mean, and have some idea that there was this big argument between the church and the king way back when.

I remember studying the Lady of Shallot with a very capable group of year 6’s, but being slowed down by having to explain terms such as knight which we could have made sure was introduced via small world play in the Early Years then built upon in ks1. I also had to explain about barley and why is was bearded, but that’s a point for addressing via the science curriculum. People who have heard me talk about the curriculum will have heard my anecdote about asking  rural eduTwitter for wheat to show year 1 in October (assuming that harvest took place when we have harvest festivals) and being educated that I was a couple of months too late. Then some kind soul somehow finding some and sending a large box of assorted cereals to school, much to the consternation of the school’s admin officer.

I  would never advocate doing something ‘for Ofsted’ but it is the ability to be able to articulate this kind of  coherent curricular thinking that I assume Ofsted are looking for when they do their deep dives.

ks2 history out next week.

Over to you, Victoria.

Key Stage 1 History

The National Curriculum specifies four very broad areas of study for KS1. As these objectives are so open, there are multiple ways that they can be translated into units of work when planning the curriculum. Each objective will be considered in turn, with suggestions about how to select units of work, and how they could be sequenced.

When making these choices, the following factors would be useful to take into account:

  • What will be studied in KS2 and KS3, as the KS1 curriculum needs to provide a good foundation of knowledge for children to build on later. You may want to consider planning the KS2 curriculum before you plan KS1, and if possible contact local secondary schools for details of their KS3 curriculum.
  • Any gaps that may exist in children’s general knowledge when considering the KS2 curriculum you have planned. For example, as the KS2 curriculum mainly consists of periods before 1066, children may not have an understanding of what knights were and features of castles, which they will probably come across in stories.
  • The texts you plan to teach across the school and the background knowledge needed to access these. How crucial is understanding the background knowledge to the plot? For example, when reading Room 13, a brief explanation of the dissolution of the monasteries to help children understand the history of Whitby Abbey would be useful, but it’s not necessary for them to have studied this in depth. However, if you intend to study Street Child, it would be important for children to have background knowledge of the Victorians in order to access the text.
  • The history of the local area – which figures were important in the history of the area? Did any significant events happen locally? Are there any significant buildings, historic sites or local industries? Thorough research here will help you select topics that are meaningful to your pupils and that can enhance children’s understanding of local geography too.
  • Themes that will help children to better understand how daily life has changed over time, and that are relevant to their own lives – houses and homes, school, transport, communication, toys, technology, jobs.
  • Promoting British Values and children’s moral, social, emotional and cultural development, as well as adding to pupils’ understanding of diversity. For example, selecting the nurses Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole as significant individuals to study could provide rich opportunities for children to both develop empathy, and their understanding of how the nurses’ different backgrounds affected the opportunities that were available to them.
  • Note that there is no requirement to select only one unit of study for each of the four bullet points, so if you have time you may choose to select two or three examples to teach some of the objectives.

Changes within living memory

The guidance in the National Curriculum is that these should be used to reveal aspects of change in national life. The broad themes listed above (home, school, transport, communication and technology) provide a useful focus for this area of study. When selecting which one(s) to focus on, consider those that are most relevant in your local area. For example, if your school has moved to a new building, changes in school life over time may be a good choice, or if there have been significant housing developments, changes to the size of the town and type of housing being built would be relevant. Opportunities for trips and visitors may influence your decision, for example if you have a local dockyard museum, canal or steam railway, changes in transport may be a good choice.

A unit of work on this objective could either track a theme, such as communication, through the decades from the 1920s to the present day, teaching about communication before the telephone, when telephones were commonly used in ordinary people’s houses, the introduction of the internet, ending with the wireless devices and smartphones we use today, and identifying how these changes impacted on people’s lives. Alternatively, life in a particular decade could be contrasted with modern life, looking at several themes such as homes, transport and communication.

Events beyond living memory

The National Curriculum specifies that these should be significant either nationally or globally. Suggestions are the Great Fire of London or the first aeroplane flight, although these are not statutory. Again the history of your local area can help to guide your choices – for schools in London, the Great Fire seems like a logical choice. Alternatively, you may wish to choose an event that is linked to one of the areas included in your geography curriculum.

Another suggestion in the National Curriculum is learning about events commemorated through festivals or anniversaries, for example learning about the reasons why we mark Remembrance Day each year. Themes that are not covered within other objectives could help with your decision – if you aren’t covering transport elsewhere, the first aeroplane flight may be a good way of filling that gap. Finally, consider any gaps in the KS2 curriculum. Are there any events that children will not have learnt about, that you consider are essential for children to know before they leave Year 6? This could be an opportunity to include these.

Lives of significant individuals in the past

The individuals you select must have contributed to national or international achievements. The important thing is that the people you select enable you to compare aspects of life in different periods. This indicates that the pairs of individuals you select should be separated by time.

This objective can be used to ensure that children have sufficient understanding of the features of periods that will be studied later, or that will be useful to provide background knowledge for reading or for local study in geography. For example, if there is a significant amount of Victorian history in your local area, you may select an aspect of Victorian life to study in KS2. In this case, comparing Queen Victoria with another monarch would support more in depth learning about the Victorians later. As a considerable number of classic children’s books were written or are set in Victorian times, comparing the life of a Victorian author with an author from a different period would enable children to access these texts more confidently.

Alternatively, you could select individuals whose lives provided opportunities to build on knowledge in other areas of the curriculum. For example, if the lives of explorers were selected here, that would provide opportunities to reinforce world geography knowledge such as continents, oceans and North and South Poles.

Significant historical events, places or people in your locality

You may want to make this choice last, so that you can choose an aspect or aspects of local history that does not already fit within one of the above three objectives. What have you chosen for your KS2 local history study? Think about what children will need to know to be able to access this unit of work. Would it be beneficial to select a unit that would provide children with useful background knowledge in KS1? Or is there another significant aspect of local history that children will not have the opportunity to study in KS2?

Suggested sequencing

As a general principle, learning should be sequenced so as to move from concepts that are ‘closer’ to children’s experiences in Year 1, to learning about more abstract concepts that are further in the past in Year 2. If you choose to do this, a logical way to sequence the objectives would be to cover changes within living memory and local history in Year 1, with the more complex changes beyond living memory and comparison of significant individuals’ lives in Year 2. However, the way you choose to sequence the units you have chosen is completely dependent on the particular places, people and events you will be teaching. For example, if you have chosen to teach both changes to transport within living memory and the first aeroplane flight, you may decide to start with the first aeroplane flight and then track changes chronologically to the present day. Or if your local study focuses on a Tudor house, this would naturally precede learning about the Great Fire of London. Additionally, links to geography and science may influence your decisions about sequencing. For example, learning about the Great Fire of London is enhanced by children having an understanding of the properties of materials, so it would be useful to place this unit after Year 2 science on materials.

Unit checklist

Does the unit include opportunities to:

  • Identify similarities and differences between ways of life in different periods?
  • Develop children’s understanding of chronology?
  • Find out about the past from different sources of information?
  • Ask and answer questions (following lines of enquiry)?
  • Revisit and build on prior learning and key concepts (monarchy, source, community, chronology)? For example, remembering and ordering the names of previous monarchs studied before introducing a new monarch, or remembering the order in which significant events occurred, adding new events studied to the chronology previously learnt.
  • Develop a thorough understanding of what is important about your local area, and how it has changed?




Curriculum planning: ks1 history

Curriculum planning: ks2 geography

Last week I shared Victoria Morris’  (@MrsSTeaches) fantastic blog advising how to plan ks1 geography.  Over 1770 people have already viewed that one, so I guess it fills a need. Here is part two which focuses (somewhat unsurprisingly) on ks2 geography. Like its predecessor, it assumes you either have to or want to base your curriculum on the English National Curriculum. Particular thanks to @EnserMark for his help for this one.

We hope to get ks1 history up here next week.

If you’d like Victoria to help you with your curriculum, please see last week’s post for details

Key Stage 2 Geography

As there is considerably more content in the KS2 curriculum, I have chosen to focus on the elements that affect how units could be chosen and sequenced. My not having mentioned certain objectives, or parts of objectives, does not indicate a lack of importance – it is because they would clearly warrant a unit of their own (such as rivers or energy). But this guide should not be seen as a comprehensive description of every element needed for a good geography curriculum, but guidance about how to sequence concepts logically and ensure learning builds progressively across the key stage.

In contrast to KS1, the KS2 geography curriculum offers a greater element of choice as to how it is covered. There are more options where particular regions and features can be selected for in depth study, and these decisions should be made while taking into account the principles outlined in the KS1 guide (your pupils’ backgrounds and those represented in the local area, the level of diversity your pupils are exposed to, the human and physical features present in the local area, and the history topics and English texts you have selected). There are also multiple ways in which the objectives could be grouped in order to build units of study. However, there are some considerations that can help you to create a structure within which to make these decisions.

Regional studies

There are choices to be made regarding regions selected for in depth study:

  • understand geographical similarities and differences through the study of human and physical geography of a region of the United Kingdom, a region in a European country, and a region within North or South America

As in KS1, there is the option to combine the study of a region of the United Kingdom with using fieldwork to observe, measure, record and present human and physical features of the local area, or to select a contrasting region of the UK. However, note the difference in language – region indicates study of a larger area than just the town or county in which your school is located. There are nine regions of England (London, South East, South West, East of England, East Midlands, West Midlands, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, North West) as well as the other countries in the UK.

A region in a European country, and a region within North or South America also need to be chosen. In addition to the possible reasons for making these choices above, it is important to note the aspects of physical and human geography that are specified in the National Curriculum. You may want to select particular regions that contain several of these features, in order to provide opportunities for children to reinforce their learning. For example, Texas includes three different biomes – desert, grasslands and temperate deciduous forest – and Italy contains a mountain range, three volcanoes and the River Po, which is significant to agriculture and industry.

Alternatively, you may find that once you have selected examples of the physical features, there are significant locations in Europe, North or South America that your pupils will not have otherwise met, that you wish to choose as a focus for regional study.

The United Kingdom

You will have already selected a region of the UK to study in depth, either in conjunction with or separately from the study of your school’s local area.

However, there is a considerable amount of locational knowledge relating to the UK, which will need to be taught over more than one unit of work if children are to understand and remember all the concepts listed.

How can you divide the UK locational knowledge into smaller units of work?

  • As there are four countries of the UK and four year groups in KS2, one suggestion could be to have each year group focus on a different country, learning about all the key features listed (counties, major cities, geographical regions, human, physical and topographical features and land use patterns) in that country.
  • Alternatively, to allow for more revisiting of places in England, you could allocate Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to Years 3 – 5, as well as allocating one or two regions of England to each of the four year groups. This would provide children with more opportunities to practise identifying major cities and counties of England on maps so that they can remember what they have learnt in the long term.
  • You could map the different UK locations that are met throughout the key stage (eg. in history topics, as settings in key texts, referred to in any other foundation subject learning, visited on residential trips or through links with other schools) and allocate some time to identifying the features listed in the curriculum for that place.
  • When you teach the local area study in history, consider taking the opportunity to link this with aspects of the geography of your local area, covering the requirement in the geography curriculum for children to identify how aspects of UK geography have changed over time. For example, if you are teaching the history of immigration to the East End of London, you could link this with changes in the Docklands over time, the geography of the River Thames and land use patterns in the area.
  • Ensure that you are fully exploiting local places of interest that can enhance learning in the foundation subjects, and at the same time use these to develop children’s understanding of the geographical features of the local area and how these have changed over time. For example, if your school is within visiting distance of the home of a scientist who is significant to the KS2 programme of study, allocating some time to the history and geography of the location can provide rich cross-curricular learning opportunities.
  • When you plan for units on physical features such as rivers and mountains, ensure that you include examples that are significant in both the UK as a whole and in your local area. For example, children should know that the River Severn (whose source is in Wales and estuary in England) is the longest river in the UK, but could also learn that the River Thames flows through London, which is the capital of England, and that the Firth of Forth is the estuary of several rivers and is near Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. This is an opportunity to revise knowledge of the countries and capitals of the UK from KS1.

Links to Science

As in KS1, there are links to be made with the science curriculum. Part of the Year 4 study of states of matter includes learning about evaporation and condensation within the water cycle, so it would make sense to combine the science and geography aspects of the water cycle within one unit of work in Year 4. As rivers form a part of the water cycle, a logically sequenced curriculum would include rivers either later in Year 4 than the water cycle, or in a subsequent year group.

The physical processes of mountain formation, volcanoes and earthquakes all require knowledge of the structure of the earth, which it seems logical to teach after children have learnt about the science of rocks in Year 3. In addition, having an understanding of metals and changes of state is useful in this topic (as the earth’s core is made of molten metal and magma is molten rock), and these are taught in Year 5 materials science, so teaching mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes together late in Year 5 or in Year 6 maximises the opportunities to build on these scientific concepts.

Climate zones and biomes

The remaining elements of physical geography, climate zones and biomes, can be linked with the following locational knowledge objective:

  • identify the position and significance of latitude, longitude, Equator, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Arctic and Antarctic Circle, the Prime/Greenwich Meridian and time zones (including day and night)

The Earth is split into three climate zones – polar, temperate and tropical – by the lines of latitude (including the Equator and Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn). These divide the world according to annual temperature and precipitation. Knowledge of lines of latitude also includes understanding that the Equator splits the Earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and that the Artic and Antarctic Circles are in the polar zones.

Biomes are distinct biological communities that have formed in response to a shared climate. It is important to note that biome is a broader term than habitat, as a biome may include many different habitats. Credit: There are several different ways of classifying biomes, so it’s important to choose which one you will use as a school. A suggested list is: taiga, tundra, temperate deciduous forest, scrub forest, grassland, desert, tropical rainforest, temperate rainforest.

Key features of biomes to teach are the annual temperature and precipitation data (including seasonal change), and how these affect the types of vegetation and animal species found there. Due to the link with habitats, ideally this unit should be taught after the Year 4 science on living things and their habitats. Knowledge of how climate relates to the living things that make up a biome feeds logically into the Year 6 science objective:

  • identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptation may lead to evolution.

So ensuring children have a secure understanding of climate zones and biomes before this science is taught in Year 6 would ensure that they are fully prepared for this new learning.

The remaining elements of the locational knowledge objective – lines of longitude, the Greenwich/Prime Meridian, and time zones – can be taught either later in the same unit, or as a separate unit later in the key stage. Although for convenience time zones often follow national boundaries, they roughly correspond to the lines of longitude, of which the Prime Meridian is the most significant, as it marks 0 longitude. There is a link to Year 5 science on day and night – whilst it is not essential to teach time zones at the same time as this science knowledge, it would certainly make sense to have taught the basics of why we have day and night before teaching time zones. Therefore, this unit should ideally be sequenced after Year 5 Earth and Space science.

Table showing the earliest suggested year group in which to teach specific units, in order to achieve logical sequence of knowledge:

Year group When unit could first be included
Year 4 Climate zones/biomes (after Living things and their habitats science but before Adaptation in Year 6)

The Water Cycle (linked with science)

Rivers (after the water cycle)

Year 5 Lines of longitude/time zones (after Earth & Space science)

Mountains, volcanoes & earthquakes (after materials science)


World Locational Knowledge

In order for your children to have a thorough knowledge of the world’s countries (including their environmental regions, key physical and human characteristics and major cities), you will need to plan for plenty of opportunities for retrieval practice and introducing new countries. A useful way of providing additional chances to learn about the world’s countries could be to plan to include lessons that orientate children to countries that feature in other subjects. For example, when learning about the Ancient Romans starting with a lesson on the location and geographical features of Italy, and then following this with a lesson on Greece before learning about the Ancient Greeks, would give children a good understanding of the geography of the Mediterranean.

Aidan Severs (who blogs and tweets as @thatboycanteach) has produced a comprehensive list of questions to ask about places you study, which can be used to help teachers identify the content to include in these ‘orientation’ lessons.

Unit Checklist

Does the unit include opportunities for:

  • Locating places on maps, globes and in atlases?
  • Using mapwork skills (including compass points and grid references)?
  • Fieldwork where possible? The Royal Geographical Society have produced some useful resources to support schools with planning for fieldwork.
  • Regular retrieval practice? For example, labelling countries, cities and geographical features learnt on maps, identifying features learnt on maps or aerial photographs of places or labelling key vocabulary on diagrams.
  • Deepening children’s understanding of key physical (climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquake) and human (types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water) features?
  • Deepening children’s understanding of important geographical concepts? Clare Sealy has created a list of the main concepts that should be taught in primary geography: atmosphere, climate, continent, landform, terrain, environment, resources, biome, fertile/fertility, vegetation, settlement, population, region, trade, development, sustainability, diversity. (Developed from the list originally mentioned in this blog
Curriculum planning: ks2 geography

Curriculum planning: ks1 geography

Having not written a blog for 7 months, I am now posting a guest blog! But it’s really great and should be really useful for those of you thinking about revamping your geography curriculum. This piece has been written by Victoria Morris (@MrsSTeaches) who works at St Matthias School in Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, where I was headteacher until recently.  The process we went through to plan out curriculum started with me sharing the principles with the staff team (see this). Teachers then planned the geography curriculum for their year group. After that, Victoria checked it and revised it so that all aspects of the geography National Curriculum were taught and links between topics were really clear. We then shared the final version during an INSET day. Although if we had had this blog before we started the whole process, that would have saved us an awful lot of time. So don’t do what we did! Involving class teachers is good, but get them to use Victoria’s guidance from the start.

The blog that follows is not the curriculum as such but guidance to help you plan your own. It assumes you will be following the English National Curriculum, though I reckon it is still useful if you are an academy in England or in  a school outside England as though you don’t have to follow the NC, it will still give you some pointers so whatever you choose to cover is at least as comprehensive. Victoria has build on the great work the teaching team did and made it even better, by her painstakingly methodical work and because she also taught herself an awful lot of geography along the way!

We should also acknowledge the support  and guidance we got from Andrew Percival (@primarypercival) and the staff at Stanley Road Primary in Oldham and Jon Hutchinson  (@jon_hutchinson) from Reach Academy Feltham and Mark Enser (@EnserMark) with designing our curriculum.  Though this piece is all down to the wonderful and very talented Victoria.

Ks2 geography guidance will be posted next week and then history the week after that.

Guide to the Primary Geography Curriculum: Key Stage 1

by Victoria Morris

I’ve been lucky enough to spend the first half of this year reviewing our geography and history curriculum, and writing the scheme of work that details the knowledge to be taught in each unit. As part of this process I’ve done a lot of research and reading on the subject content, and greatly improved my subject knowledge, particularly in geography. While doing so, I’ve thought a lot about what the ideal curriculum would look like – what would be the best way of systematically developing children’s knowledge and skills so that they master the KS2 objectives by the time they leave in Year 6? I’ve written some of my thoughts into these subject guides in the hope that they may help other teachers who are in the process of reviewing their curriculum.’

The guide is written on the understanding that your school is teaching the English National Curriculum 2014, and is mainly concerned with how to select content that will ensure you cover the National Curriculum content across each key stage, as well as suggestions as to how the objectives can be grouped and sequenced in order to create a coherent, logically sequenced curriculum. What are you teaching, when, and why?

As the objectives in the Key Stage 1 geography curriculum are mainly fixed and explicit about what children should know and be able to do, the choices that need to be made are mainly regarding the order in which the objectives will be taught, how far they should be broken down into smaller steps, and how many times they should be revisited across the key stage in order to ensure that children remember what they have been taught. (One of the criteria relating to Impact under Quality of Education in the 2019 Education Inspection Framework is that “over the course of study, teaching is designed to help learners to remember in the long term the content they have been taught and to integrate new knowledge into larger concepts.”)

Small area studies

However, there is one objective which requires decisions to be made before you can create a definitive list of the geography that you will be teaching in Key Stage 1:

  • understand geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and physical geography of a small area of the United Kingdom, and of a small area in a contrasting non-European country

First, what will your small area of the UK be? It would seem to make sense to combine this study with the following objective:

  • use simple fieldwork and observational skills to study the geography of their school and its grounds and the key human and physical features of its surrounding environment

In that case, the small area of the UK would be the local area of your school.

Alternatively, you could separate these two objectives, choosing a contrasting area of the UK to study in addition to the surrounding environment of your school. This would be particularly important if your pupils have limited experience of different environments – if your school is in a city, studying a rural or coastal area would be an important addition to your children’s cultural capital.

Secondly, which contrasting non-European country will you choose? There are several possible bases for making this decision:

  1. A location that reflects the background of a significant proportion of the school population or a significant ethnic minority group in the local area. For example, if your school is an inner-city one with a high percentage of Bangladeshi Muslim pupils, studying an agricultural region of Bangladesh could be a good choice.
  2. A location that adds to the pupils’ understanding and appreciation of diversity by providing cultural as well as locational contrast.
  3. A location in a continent that does not feature in Key Stage 2, so choosing it for study in Key Stage 1 will ensure that your pupils have sufficient understanding of a range of countries around the world. I would suggest waiting until you have decided on which locations in Europe and North or South America you will teach in Key Stage 2, as well as the history units you will be teaching. Plot these locations on a world map – is there a continent or country that is not represented, but which you feel it is important for the children in your setting to have experience of?
  4. A location that links to an area of study in a different subject – a history topic or a text that is being used in English. Just be careful that if you make the decision for this reason, the location you select has sufficient learning potential (you’re not sacrificing the geography for the sake of the link).

Whichever reasoning you base your decision on, make sure that you choose an area which includes the physical and human features that are studied in this key stage, since the original objective specifies comparing physical and human geography.

Physical features: beach, cliff, coast, forest, hill, mountain, sea, ocean, river, soil, valley, vegetation, season and weather

Human features: city, town, village, factory, farm, house, office, port, harbour and shop

Suggestions about sequencing

Now you know what needs to be taught, how will you organise this into units of work? What is a logical way in which to sequence these units?

  • identify seasonal and daily weather patterns in the United Kingdom and the location of hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the Equator and the North and South Poles

The first part of this objective (seasonal weather patterns), links to the Year 1 science objectives on seasonal change, which include the requirement to observe and describe weather associated with the seasons, so it would make sense to teach them together. Consider organising this into four short blocks across the year – one for each season at the appropriate time of year – so that children can experience what they are learning about first hand. Remember that there’s a second half to this objective which will need to be slotted in later.

When sequencing the remaining objectives, it would seem to make sense to start with those focused on the UK in Year 1, and gradually widen out to cover the more abstract world locational knowledge in Year 2 (although this sequence is not essential). The following is a suggestion as to how to split the objectives between Year 1 and Year 2:

Year 1 (in no particular order)

  • use simple fieldwork and observational skills to study the geography of their school and its grounds and the key human and physical features of its surrounding environment
  • understand geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and physical geography of a small area of the United Kingdom
  • name and locate the four countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom and its surrounding seas
  • use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the United Kingdom and its countries
  • Identify characteristics of the four countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom

Year 2 (in no particular order)

  • understand geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and physical geography of a small area in a contrasting non-European country
  • name and locate the world’s seven continents and five oceans
  • use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the United Kingdom and its countries, as well as the countries, continents and oceans studied at this key stage
  • identify the location of hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the Equator and the North and South Poles

Of course there are many ways of grouping the objectives into units, which will depend on the location of your school, the backgrounds of your pupils and the history units you choose to teach.  Also, keeping in mind the need for children to regularly revisit and have opportunities for retrieval practice, it will be important to continue to reference and build on knowledge initially taught in Year 1, throughout Year 2. You may also decide to introduce children to the seven continents and five oceans in Year 1, or to split the study of the school and its grounds into two units, with more in depth fieldwork taking place in Year 2 when children have developed a better understanding of measurement and statistics.

Geographical skills and fieldwork

Geographical skills and fieldwork should be included in each unit, with the level of challenge gradually increasing throughout the key stage. As with the locational knowledge objectives, it is vital that prior learning is regularly revisited and built on, so there should be several opportunities throughout both Year 1 and Year 2 for children to practice using compass points to describe locations on maps for example.

When introducing new human and physical features, and new locations, following this routine would be a good way of ensuring that children’s map skills are developed well:

  1. Identify in photographs
  2. Visit in real life if possible
  3. Identify in aerial photographs
  4. Identify on a map (OS map symbols)
  5. Locate on a map of the UK or the world
  6. Describe its location in relation to other places or features studied
  7. Locate in an atlas

This sequence could be gradually developed throughout the key stage, so that by the end of Year 2 children are able to do all of the above confidently.

The unit on seasonal weather patterns provides a good opportunity for developing fieldwork skills by recording temperatures and measuring rainfall. Additionally, the unit of study of the school grounds and the surrounding environment should mainly consist of fieldwork. If you have chosen to study a contrasting area of the UK as well as the school’s local area, additional fieldwork could be carried out on a visit.

Opportunities for retrieval practice

Including an ‘orientation lesson’, which looks at the location of places that are important, using the list of activities above to explore it fully, at the start of each history unit, could be a useful way of providing children with opportunities to revise previous locational knowledge, use their geographical skills, and introduce them to a wider variety of countries.

Additionally, looking carefully at the texts you have chosen to teach from a geographical perspective could provide some useful opportunities. This may be using ‘orientation lessons’ as described above, or it may be identifying human and physical features in illustrations or using knowledge to create a clear picture of a setting. It’s worth noting that while vegetation is on the list of physical features, if plants or trees have been planted by people, such as flowerbeds in a park, they are in fact human features. Illustrations or mentions of different features in stories could help to provide children with plenty of examples (and non-examples) so that they develop a really secure understanding.

Ks2 guidance to follow next week.

If you would like Victoria to have a look at your curriculum or to help you develop it from scratch, then contact


Curriculum planning: ks1 geography